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The Nature of Hope


Dedication

To Ruintheron – living proof that behind darkness, light can be found

To Ilaneal - may any place in which we find Hope become a Refuge against despair

Finally, to my siblings in Hope, across race, nation and belief – Hope sees all races through.


The last time I offered my thoughts and insights, it inspired great action among my people.

It is clear times are changing.

I offer further thoughts, from the questions I am asked and the answers I hope brought them solace.


Orrin Wraithslayer of Clan Stonebreaker Priest of Vaetta



Hope

For many years Hope has been considered an anathema to the Dwarven People. Now we have seen that Hope was not gone, but was merely forgotten. We placed out faith in Courage, for Courage was what was needed in the dark times of the first Shadow War. As such, we should not dwell on the past, but remember it.

Now there is a chance to restore what was lost, and we should not forget again – a lesson from the other races.

Hope comes when it is needed, and often it is only when all seems lost that people realise its value. When trapped without sight, any illumination, no matter how small, is a comfort. When you walk in the light of day, the candle helps little. In times of Prosperity, Hope may be considered of less value. When the soul faces the abyss, any light is welcome.

I have often called Hope a light in the darkness; I thought this a reflection of this nature, but it casts suspicion on Darkness which is still a realm of the divine. So often language encourages us to match pairs in other, similar ways: Hope and Despair, Good and Evil, Darkness and Light.

Darkness and Light are domains that simply are – one cannot be seen without the other. Two halves of a single whole. Dwarves have always known that it is not the darkness that is evil, but what it conceals. Similarly Light is not good of itself, but only grants illumination and the ability to see. We must still recognise that which lies before us.

Hope shines brightest when despair closes all around. If despair were not possible, Hope would not exist. Do not pity and shame those lost to despair, for that is exactly what they are – lost. Their need is the greatest of all. Seek out these people, and offer solace. See how they can be helped, and give them reason to Hope again. Remember that Hope is not finite; in gifting it to another we do not diminish our own.

Last comes the hardest. The books of the Humans and Elves that teach of Athaya state never to succumb to despair. If I were to do so I would be a hypocrite, for I have lived that time, a time of despair and before true faith. We are mortal. We falter. We fail. But it is how we rise again that matters. If your own faith wavers, know this – people look for Hope in times of need. There is no shame in looking for it oneself, seeking out the spark to rekindle our own faith.

Hope is infinite; it never ends. Even when we feel despair, the absence of Hope, we can continue to give even when your own well seems empty. It is not gone, we can merely no longer see it. Hope is never just about ourselves, but the ability to inspire others. When any of us lacks certainty, know that this is not a failing – it merely makes you mortal. But if you can set aside your uncertainties, your fears, your doubts, even if for only a short time, you will be able to give Hope to those feeling the very same uncertainties as yourself. Hope, conjured from nothing. And if you open that door, you will feel their Hope buoying you to greater heights, restoring your own.


Restoration and Prosperity

Vaetta encapsulates the realms of Hope and Prosperity. Hope is of the Soul, and Prosperity of the world.

What should be prosperous? The Dwarven people? The Church of Vaetta? All the peoples? All the gods? While the answer is all of these, no one mortal could achieve such a task. Dwarves cannot bring Prosperity to all of Ilmarin, nor should we try. It is a thing that must be wanted. Like Faith, one can only be Prosperous if one dedicates oneself to the task.

Prosperity requires work and sacrifice. When building on something from the past, or something lost, it must be restored before it can flourish – such as we seek to now. I would see the Church of Vaetta restored from it’s shadow. That is where I would see future Prosperity from my own efforts. Hope emerges as it is needed – perhaps this means the need for Vaetta is smaller than it was in days gone by, but I will not see Hope vanish again for our people, and would see a place of Hope always available for those that need it.

We look for sites and texts to return to their former glory, and when there is need of Hope for anyone, we will be there. We must learn skills that make our priests valued that we might contribute not only spiritually to our people but practically as well, demonstrating this ethos. This can be done in many ways. Medical skills are always valuable, as are loremasters. Those that wish to seek the lost chapels of hope should learn some combat skills and may lend aid to Watches and patrols. All these roles create hope when it is needed, providing essential service to the community.

On Preaching and Guiding

The realm of Oratory falls under the domain of Brenna, but all priests are called upon to preach. All peoples come to the faithful when their spirits waver to hear the words that would give them Hope – or as they might see, to help them believe in a cause or path. Belief and Hope go hand in hand, the shields against despair; it is our duty to make sure that any who have that need are so armed that they might carry on.

At these times, people will listen closely to your words. The rest of the time, they may not. Why should a law-abiding citizen be concerned with the proselytizing of the Vengrimites? Similar, telling those around us to have Hope when all is well is likely to fall on deaf ears.

When you talk with the people, do not try and sway the faithful of other Gods, for their path is just as worthy as any other. All will come for Hope when it is needed, when the time is right for them. We should trust in their authorities and their words will be heeded more than ours, for in the daily life of many tools such as Knowledge and Justice are far more useful and practical than Hope alone, and to tell otherwise is not wisdom. This is why I place such focus on work, on Prosperity; Hope is the start, the beginning; Prosperity is the result, the ending; between them both, there is the task, the toil, the journey. In that we no different than those all around us, and we must not forget that we are still One.

Speaking to an audience is challenging. I do not consider myself an orator, but I know that words are powerful, and when called upon to speak people will pay close thought to my words. If you have chance to prepare your words, do so. When you do not, I can only offer this advice – speak true. Speak from the heart, and show no fear. Be honest with those that listen, but never perpetuate a message of despair. Aim to kindle the spark of Hope in every Soul, and offer breath to the embers of Courage.

Hope should be found when it is needed, and it’s need touches all in different ways. Be watchful of the community, of the people around you, from the elder to the babe. Be present at the temples, for that is where people turn to find faith. If we are to offer the message of Hope, we need to be found when people realise that need. If we are to support Prosperity, we must be seen to be contributing to that goal.

Most of all, the voice that shouts the loudest is not always the wisest. Many who look for Hope seek a bulwark against fear. Fear is personal, and many believe it implies a lack of strength, but no-one is immune to Fear. Some that come for Hope may not yet know that it what they seek – our faith is re-emerging and still deciding what nature it will be. Those that come to us alone are coming in trust, in faith. We must honour that trust in us, and give what Hope may take hold in return.

Preaching to the one is as important as to the many, and more likely to be heard. It may take time, but be patient and understanding. I know this way works, for that is how Hope was shown to me – not in a grand speech or miracle, but counsel. Advice and guidance offered when I myself was lost in the darkness – my time of greatest need. I did not wish to see Hope. I wished to see only the darkness and let it take me. It took many conversations and reminders of the strength within myself before I was able to accept enough to face what had to come, and it may take multiple attempts to inspire an individual as needed. Do not lose Hope in them.


Faith

Have Faith.

So many times have those words been said to me, they sometimes cease to possess all meaning. They are intended as words of solace against the challenges of the soul, but words alone may not be enough when we are being called upon for such support.

Every time someone told me to have faith, I felt infuriated. Like I was being pressed into trusting, when I wished to make a choice on my own terms. Of course I had very little time to make that choice, which was the reality; my comrades in arms were trying to steel me in momentous times I felt ill-prepared to face.

Telling someone to have Faith is similar, but not the same as telling someone to have Hope. Faith can be in people, in the Gods – it is trust, a belief. Often, the phrase is used interchangeably in the Common tongue. When people say to have Faith, they mean to have Hope, or they could be suggesting to place faith an individual, or in the path they have chosen – divine or otherwise. It is this which creates the synonym of Faith and Hope.

When I was told to “have faith”, I know that it was put this way because accepting and trusting to faith was easier to accept than having Hope. Suggesting Faith allows the individual agency and choice – they can choose to place it in an ideal, in their blade, their will… or their god. This ability to choose allows pragmatism, and removes the need for faith in a God, but most importantly, if one has Faith, regardless in what it is, one also clings to Hope. When one has Hope, it is the believe in success, even if this is to avoid the fear of defeat. However this is brought about is to kindle the spark of Hope.

No matter how many times you may tell someone, it is only when they let the words take root that they will find what you offer. Words and scriptures can be taught. Faith, like Hope, is a feeling. It can be inspired, generated – but it can also be fleeting. Those who are granted the gifts of the Gods possess unwavering Faith in the deity of their adoration.

For myself and the others who are turning to Vaetta, we are learning to trust in Hope once again, and for us, with that Hope, faith returns.


On the Dwarven People

At many times I have referred to “what it means to be a dwarf”. Here I must acknowledge that what this means is my view alone. Some may share it, and some may not. I will try not to lay down dictates, only what I have grown learning what our nature means to us. Others will have different experience; this is mine. Make of it what you will.

From a young age I was taught that the Dwarven Empire was the greatest of the current age – a feat of our forebears to be proud of, and to both exult and continue as much as we can. The Principles of the Triumvate of the Gods from the Empire’s founding – Vengrim, Rhundr and Brienna – gave us the virtues of justice, wisdom and courage (Faith in Vaetta had already been sundered by this point). Beneath them we build the foundations of the Empire. Every individual can fulfil a duty to the Empire, and through that benefit all. I grew with the benefit of education brought about in recent decades – allowing me to perform a duty of the mind, rather than a menial one (which I did not excel in).

As a clerk in the mines outside Karadain I was still performing a duty, a service. With the discovery of my Earth Magic those duties changed, and as the Shadow war broke out they changed again.

l believe that we dwarves place much onus on duty. More than anything this seems to drive our people. What Should be done, to align with those tenants that have stood for over eight centuries. Is our action Just? Is it Wise? Does it have Courage? Often the last of these is of less consideration that the others but no less important when it arises. Duty we might consider to be the civic choice – something not for ourselves, but for others. In my experience, the Dwarves that believe in accepting and committing to this responsibility vastly overwhelm those who would serve themselves.

Our people are proud. When challenges appear, we face them as a people. When individuals fall, they should be supported. No-one is immune to the vices of this world. Only through effort do we keep them at bay, like darkness kept back by light. Never gone, only held.

Now I have a new duty. That to Vaetta, because working through her faithful I was shown a way forwards. I serve because she gave that path to me, back out of the darkness, and I do not know if I can ever repay that act. If anything this reinforces the concept of Duty to a Dwarf. Those that take religious orders do so completely – combining their faith with their sense of self has emerged over the years and centuries to become what it is today. We, the faithful of Vaetta, are only just beginning to tread that path. It may not be walked in my lifetime. But as a part of my Duty to Vaetta and the restoration of her faith, I must think on these things, as do all who initiate themselves into a church.

Hope is different for us. It has been discouraged for many years. But I could never believe that finding Hope should ever mean that we must turn our backs on the lessons we have grown up with and learned through our lives. Hope was always a part of us – we as a whole people, not just those of Vaetta’s faith, must learn to accept it within ourselves again. This will take time.

I always thought we Dwarves were a conservative people. My recent experience has revealed to me that this is something about myself rather than a matter of Race. The bonds we form make us very strong as communities, and mine simply happened to be one with a strong sense of tradition. Either that or there are many among us who seek to restore the Empire of the past, reopening the Shadow Gates and taking to Hope like it has always been a part of them. In seeing the wider world, I have seen that we can always be more and reach further than we realise. In these new times, that is a part of what I hope to be.

More.

More of what I cannot yet say, but to me, that is the aspect of Prosperity – growth, development, strength, and perseverance. From the Elves and Humans, they call this the Restorative aspect of Athaya. That is one perspective. But if we aim to prosper, that may not be the simple restoration to what something one was, but the building on that foundation to ensure what it will be in the future – something I feel our people have always tried to do.

Though we had left Hope behind, we never forgot prosperity, and now seek a now Golden Age for all races. This is the path I see unfolding, and as the Dwarven people Prosper Vaetta’s faithful will show that this means that there is Hope once again in our people.

What it means to be a dwarf is different to all of us, but we have a sense of community, of belonging. Bring Hope to those with whom you share your bond, and grow and prosper together.

A Tale

There was once a man bestowed of a unique Spear, and tasked with slaying a mighty Dragon with that power. But the Spear was great, and he felt himself but a normal man, and the man was beset by terror and fear. The enemy was mighty and no magic nor powers of the gods could slay that beast, and all he could see was darkness and action he could never complete.

Those that would help told him of the actions that would be done, but he did not see that the course was possibly, nor himself worthy. Yet it was only he that could perform this duty, and he believed he would fail.

He turned despair and to drink and hid from the world, afraid of all that might befall him.

In this time, a shape emerged from the shadows, as if made of living darkness. It offered a flame to ward off the night, and told him of his strength.

The words were heard, but the man did not believe. He left the spirit and it’s flame, and ran into the gloaming.

He travelled through the darkness, until he saw a camp. There were parties and festivities, for a great celebration was being held. His horn dry, he slipped inside to claim a flagon for his own.

The Fears came with him.

He drank until he had no fear, but also no wisdom. He drew his axe, filling the other guests with his Fears, and they ran from him. The party vanished, and he was left alone in the darkness.

Again, the spirit emerged from the shadows and offered him a flame to light the way. The man tried desperately to take the flame, but each time it went out in his hands. He did not know how to hold the flame, and it would not stay. But he tried, and the shadow promised to walk with him and to use it’s flame, until he could carry one for himself.

They set off through the darkness, to face the enemies. From the darkness came other Spirits carrying fires of many colours, and they surrounded the man. And as they crested the hill and stared into the face of the armies against them, the lights shielded him from his fear.

There was no sun, but as they stared at the mighty dragon, the flames took the forms of the spirits and emerged as bold warriors to stand by his side. They handed him the Spear, and as he reached for it, he realised it was not their light that shone upon it but a light of his own.

And so he joined with the lights in the darkness, and charged.

Hope is strongest together.